Our friends over at Intravid.com break down Saturday’s co main event and the fight I am most looking forward to. Love to hear your thoughts on this fight also.
Saturday night, MMA fans will have the opportunity to watch two of the world’s best 170lb fighters square off in what many would call the “unofficial number one contender fight.” Tri-Star’s Rory Macdonald and Team Reign’s Jake Ellenberger will finally face off after some exciting pre-fight trash talk. So let’s take a look at how these two match up…
Rory Macdonald is arguably the first fighter to enter the UFC representing the new generation of athletes who started training purely in MMA. Unlike most fighters who began with some sort of base, whether it wrestling, Muay Thai etc. Rory entered the game a blank slate, ready to absorb pure knowledge in mixed martial arts. Absorb he certainly has as he quickly fought his way to a 14-1 professional record by the ripe age of 23. Rory, newly 24, is an incredibly well-rounded fighter, a conditioned and composed black belt in Jiu-Jitsu with a solid boxing and wrestling attack. Though nobody has questioned how good Rory is and how good he can/will be, a fight with proven contender Jake Ellenberger has people questioning whether Rory is ready for such a tough test. Macdonald has run through every opponent he has faced besides Carlos Condit, another top welterweight who Rory beat for the first two rounds of their contest in June of 2010 and a win over Jake will be a major step in his career. Rory Macdonald is no doubt one of the best in the world with endless potential and a win over Ellenberger is just what he needs to take his career to the next level.
Though Rory’s 14-1 record is impressive, arguably more so than Ellenberger’s 29-6 record, the caliber of opponents Rory has faced is certainly not at the same level. Rory’s two most notable wins have come against natural lightweights Nate Diaz and BJ Penn who he was able to out-wrestle and control. His victory against Mike Pyle also came from vicious ground and pound. With Rory’s notable victories coming after Rory was able to get on top and dominate, it will be a much different test come Saturday when he, for the first time finds himself up against a dominant wrestler. It is worth noting that during the Condit fight, once Rory found himself on his back in the third round Condit was able to put him away. Although Ellenberger will not bring the same conditioning to the cage that Condit does, Jake does bring a more dominant top game than Condit and so it will be interesting to see how Macdonald’s bottom game has progressed since his first professional loss. Rory will bring a 3.5 inch reach advantage into the Octagon on Saturday and will need to establish the great jab that he has to dictate the range. Look for Rory to circle right, away from Jake’s power hand and seek the takedown as a guy like Ellenberger is not used to fighting off of his back. This will be the first fight where Rory is not guaranteed to be able to control where the fight takes place and an opportunity for Rory to show just how good he truly is.
Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger enters the cage Saturday night as the favorite in my opinion against Rory Macdonald. Jake is an experienced veteran with 35 professional fights, and 29 wins against much tougher competition than his opponent, the young Macdonald, has faced. If anybody questioned whether Jake is confident for this fight or not, listen to any of his pre-fight interviews and it will be clear he is excited for this fight and believes he will be able to put Rory on his back and dominate him as he has done many before him. In Jake’s corner are a few things…First off, he has faced numerous opponents who are very similar matchups as Macdonald stylistically. Like Macdonald, Martin Kampmann, Diego Sanchez, and Nate Marquart are all good boxers with solid wrestling. On the other side, Rory has never faced a fighter like Jake, so Jake will likely be the man with fewer adjustments having to be made come fight night.
Jake will also bring a power advantage to the cage, as he has the ability to finish opponents with one shot which Rory has not yet proven to possess. Though Jake will be giving up a slight reach advantage, this will be the first fight Rory will need to be constantly wary of the takedown which Jake will try to capitalize on. Ellenberger will need to mix things up and set his shots up with punches which should enable him to get on top where he has proven to be dominant.
This is an interesting fight because the winner will likely be up next to take on GSP for the belt if George is able to defeat Johnny Hendricks. Seeing as Rory will likely not be willing to fight GSP if he wins I would imagine a victory for Jake will mean a title shot while a victory for Rory will yield another opponent, potentially a rematch with top contender Carlos Condit.
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